Needle stick injuries are wounds caused by needles that accidentally puncture the skin. Non healthcare needle sticks are an avoidable event that place persons at risk for bloodborne infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).
"Individuals living in the community use needles and syringes to treat medical conditions or to inject illegal drugs. Workers such as waste haulers, recycling plant workers, janitors, housekeepers, and sewage treatment workers can experience needlestick injuries when used needles are improperly disposed of. Members of the general public, including children, can also be exposed" (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Sharps disposal is important whether at home, work, traveling or in public places.
NEVER place loose needles/sharps in the trash or recycle bins, down the sink or flush down in the toilet.
Examples of sharps include:
- Needles - hollow needles used to inject drugs (medication) under the skin
- Syringes - devices used to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body
- Lancets, also called "fingerstick" devices - instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing.
- Auto Injectors, including epinephrine and insulin pens - syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body
- Infusion sets - tubing systems with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body
- Connection needles/sets - needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on homedialysis.
How to Dispose of Sharps:
- Used sharps should be immediately placed in a sharps disposal container.
- Notre Dame Wellness Center Pharmacy has sharp disposal containers for $4.05 per unit.
If you Experience a Needle Stick, immediately follow these steps:
- Wash needlesticks and cuts with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available
- Report incident to your supervisor if occurrence happens while at work
- Immediately seek medical treatment
Please remember improper disposal of sharps places the entire Notre Dame community at risk.
If you have any questions please contact the Notre Dame Wellness Center Occupational Health Team at 631-2371 or Risk Management and Safety at 631-5037.